With a tired 19-19-6 Red Wings team followed by a back-to-back against the New Jersey Devils coming up on the schedule, the Maple Leafs have an opportunity to bank points heading into the All-Star break starting tonight in Detroit (7:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).

With the Red Wings in a back-to-back, his familiarity with the building, and coming off of his strongest start as a Leaf on Long Island last Saturday, this is a good opportunity for Petr Mrazek to continue to gain a foothold in the season in what will be just his sixth start of 2021-22.

The Leafs will otherwise run out the same lineup they did in the last game, with Jake Muzzin still not ready to return from his head injury and Timothy Liljegren expected to be cleared from his own concussion scare in Wednesday’s win over Anaheim.

The new line combinations will stay intact coming off of a game in which the Leafs dominated the run of play; the Leafs did their scoring entirely on the power play (3-for-4), but they generated 52 shot attempts (to Anaheim’s 34) and 33 scoring chances (to Anaheim’s nine) at 5v5.

The Red Wings are bottom 10 in almost all the significant statistical categories — goals for, goals against, shots for, shots against, expected goal share, shot attempt share, scoring chance share, power play, and penalty kill — except for 5v5 save percentage, where they’re 19th in the league. Although there is always the “trap game” caveat, this is a good opportunity for the Leafs to use one of their games in hand to put some distance between themselves and the surging Bruins (now just two points back of third place in the Atlantic Division) and keep pace with the two division-leading teams down in Florida.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the dynamic of Auston Matthews’ line without Mitch Marner:

I think there are different dynamics for sure. With Mitch, Mitch has the puck on his stick a lot, so Auston spends a lot more time moving around, trying to get open, and finding space that way.

With Kase, he is more of a forechecker who is going to go and get after the puck, creating loose puck situations for Auston to be the guy with the puck. At the same time, I think it creates more action in and around the net, where we have seen Auston excel in that area.

There are different dynamics for sure. As we know, Auston can score in different ways. We have seen Kase’s ability to make a play and all of those things as well, but there is a lot more pucks available for Auston himself to handle, distribute, and play a bit more of a give-and-go game that way. We like that.

Of course, he plays give-and-go with Mitch quite a bit as well, but Mitch is a puck-dominant player. There are some adjustments to be made there for Auston in terms of playing with Bunting and Kase.

Keefe on Marner finally scoring a few power-play goals since returning from injury/Covid:

I really think it is just a matter of [bounces going his way]. If anything, he has come back with a clear head. If you get time away, you come back, and you just go out and play.

The puck has gone in for him. He has scored some really great goals for us. If we were to go back and look at his shots and chances for his season or even last, if you are looking at the power play, they are pretty similar. The puck has just gone in for him.

It is great for his confidence to be able to have that production consistently since coming back here. I am sure he is looking to build on it.

Keefe on Travis Dermott’s season to date:

I think he has done a good job for us at times when we have really needed him to step up, but I think he has been in competition all season with Sandin and Liljegren. At times, he has moved in and out of the lineup. It has been different for him that way; he has had to contend with that.

That is the reality when you have good, young players coming and pushing for spots — not unlike what he had to do himself when he was trying to establish himself in the NHL.

We think Travis has another level to his game and has more consistency to bring to his game. He has some great assets he brings to our group. We need to help him bring that more consistently.

Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill on his team’s shootout win in Pittsburgh last night:

More than the result was how we got the result. I am not saying we outplayed them — they certainly had their chances — but I thought we did a lot of things that you have to do in order to have a chance to beat good teams and win on the road. We did a much, much, much better job of managing the puck; we laid it behind them more… I also thought we kept their composure when they scored in the third period.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #25 Ondrej Kase
#65 Ilya Mikheyev – #91 John Tavares – #16 Mitch Marner
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #64 David Kampf – #88 William Nylander
#47 Pierre Engvall – #19 Jason Spezza – #24 Wayne Simmonds

#44 Morgan Rielly –  #78 TJ Brodie
#38 Rasmus Sandin  – #3 Justin Holl
#23 Travis Dermott – #37 Timothy Liljegren

Starter: #35 Petr Mrazek
#36 Jack Campbell

Extras: Kyle Clifford, Nick Ritchie, Alex Biega
Injured: Jake Muzzin (concussion)

Detroit Red Wings Projected Lines

#92 Vlad Namestnikov – #71 Dylan Larkin – #23 Lucas Raymond
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #24 Pius Suter – #14 Robby Fabbri
#73 Adam Erne – #27 Michael Rasmussen – #11 Filip Zadina
#48 Givani Smith – #90 Joe Veleno – #89 Sam Gagner

#82 Jordan Oesterle – #53 Moritz Seider
#18 Marc Staal – #17 Filip Hronek
#2 Nick Leddy – #28 Gustav Lindstrom

Starter: #39 Alex Nedeljokvic
#31 Calvin Pickard

Injured: Jakub Vrana, Troy Stetcher, Mitchell Stephens, Carter Rowney